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What Does a Caramel Macchiato Taste Like?

Quick Answer: What Does A Caramel Macchiato Taste Like?

A caramel macchiato tastes like a very milky coffee with sweet notes of vanilla and caramel. It is an espresso drink with a bold and somewhat bitter coffee flavor that is tempered by the sweetness of vanilla and caramel syrups. The first sips are likely the foamed milk and a drizzle of caramel added to the top, which is very sweet. As you drink a caramel macchiato and get past the layer of foam, you reach the espresso in milk. This coffee is rich and milky, but bolder and more acidic than a latte. The level of sweetness is dependent on how much vanilla and caramel syrup is used, but in its purest form, the caramel macchiato is intended to be just sweet enough to reduce the bitterness of the espresso for a balanced drink.

Caramel macchiatos can be made in any coffee shop (or at home) but many people are familiar with them because they are one of the most popular drinks at Starbucks.

What should you expect if you order a caramel macchiato? Will you like it?

What is the exact flavor of a caramel macchiato?

What Is A Caramel Macchiato?

Caramel Macchiato

A caramel macchiato is an espresso drink that mixes 4 essential ingredients: espresso, milk, vanilla syrup, and caramel syrup. It is also prepared and served distinctively so that you can savor the flavors in layers, rather than mixing them all. 

The caramel macchiato gained popularity as a Starbucks drink, although it is now served widely in coffee shops. It’s a variation of the traditional Italian macchiato, with the introduction of caramel and vanilla syrups.

What Does ‘Macchiato’ Mean?

Macchiato means “marked” in Italian, and refers to the telltale drop of black in the foam as a result of pouring the espresso into the milk rather than the other way around. 

A “macchiato” means that a small amount of something is added to a larger amount of something else, “marking” it. This could be espresso poured into milk, or milk poured into espresso.

In the case of a caramel macchiato, the espresso is added to the milk, leaving a mark on the foam and identifying the drink as a macchiato.

What Texture Does A Caramel Macchiato Have?

Caramel Macchiato

A caramel macchiato has a velvety, smooth, and creamy mouth feel. It contains a lot of milk, as well as bold and heavy espresso. 

The experience of drinking a caramel macchiato starts with the foam and the drizzled syrup on top and then progresses to drinking the milky sweet espresso beneath.

In this sense, there is more than one texture to the experience of drinking a caramel macchiato, and that is part of what people love about them.

Is A Caramel Macchiato Healthy?

Caramel Macchiato

Not particularly.

Although there are health benefits (as well as health risks) to drinking coffee, this still probably isn’t the healthiest way to enjoy it. 

First of all, this is a strong espresso drink with plenty of caffeine that can be dehydrating and inflammatory. It also includes plenty of milk, which can cause health problems for many people.

Lastly, it’s quite sweet. The ideal macchiato is not overwhelming in terms of sweetness, but there is no getting around the fact that this delicious treat requires vanilla and caramel syrup to become a caramel macchiato.

It’s fine to have the occasional caramel macchiato as a treat (and there are worse things that you can order at Starbucks) but it’s not exactly healthy and contains a lot of caffeine, milk, and sugar. 

How Do You Make A Caramel Macchiato?

Caramel Macchiato

The key to a caramel macchiato is using frothed milk and pouring your hot espresso into it. If you don’t prepare it like that, it doesn’t matter what you end up with – it’s not a macchiato.

You can prepare a caramel macchiato at home using your espresso maker, beans, vanilla, and caramel syrup. 

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What Are The Best Coffee Beans For A Caramel Macchiato?

Caramel Macchiato

You can use any espresso beans you want to make a caramel macchiato, although if you want the most genuine drink you can make, you should steer away from coffee beans that are already flavored to taste like caramel.

A true caramel macchiato is made from espresso first, with just a bit of caramel syrup added.

What Is The Difference Between A Caramel Macchiato And A Caramel Latte?

A caramel macchiato has more espresso and less milk than a caramel latte, which gives it a stronger coffee flavor and makes it more acidic.

The taste of a caramel macchiato is a strong espresso flavor with a hint of sweetness. The dominant flavor in a caramel latte is rich and creamy milk and sweet caramel that is mixed in. 

Caramel Macchiato Nutritional Information

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (8 fl oz) According To

Calories from Fat25
Total Fat3g
Saturated Fat1.5g
Trans Fats0g
Total Carbohydrates21g
Dietary Fiber0g
Vitamin A0% of the Daily Requirement
Vitamin C0% of the Daily Requirement
Calcium15% of the Daily Requirement
Iron0% of the Daily Requirement

Quick Table: 3 Tasty Caramel Macchiato Recipes

RecipeCalories Per ServingTotal Preparation Time
Copycat Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Recipe29410 min
Homemade Caramel Macchiato By The Domestic Diva24110 min
Iced Caramel Macchiato By Gather For Bread1605 min

1. Copycat Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Recipe

If you become a lover of the caramel macchiato as a regular Starbucks customer, here is some good news: you can enjoy your favorite caffeinated treat at home, and it’s not as hard to make as you might think.

You don’t need barista training to make this recipe or even an espresso machine at home.

Although it might hurt your authenticity points a little bit, you can still get the essence of a caramel macchiato by using slightly more coffee to substitute for espresso and brewing it as strongly as you can.

If you want to enjoy a caramel macchiato at home that tastes just like your favorite Starbucks treat, this is the recipe for you.

Calories Per Serving: 294

Total Preparation Time: 10 min

2. Homemade Caramel Macchiato By The Domestic Diva

As much as we all love the Starbucks drink, there is more to the world of caramel macchiato than a single chain of coffee shops. You can tweak this recipe to create the perfect homemade caramel macchiato for you.

According to the Domestic Diva, you need an espresso maker to get an even halfway decent caramel macchiato.

That might be up for debate, but if you want to follow this recipe to the letter you will need to have your espresso machine at home. 

With that said, this recipe helps you cut a separate corner by helping you make your vanilla syrup at home.

You can usually find the caramel syrup for sale in coffee shops, in Italian markets, or online, but it can occasionally be harder to locate the vanilla syrup, which makes it convenient that there is a recipe included.

If you are excited about creating your caramel macchiato at home with an espresso maker, and you’re ready to expand on the standard recipe, this guide will help you create a custom caramel macchiato that you’ll fall in love with. 

Calories Per Serving: 241

Total Preparation Time: 10 min

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3. Iced Caramel Macchiato By Gather For Bread

A hot caramel macchiato is a thing of beauty, but on a sweltering summer day, an iced caramel macchiato is a perfect thing to hit the spot.

This recipe uses instant espresso to create a cold drink that can outshine its warm equivalents and will be a go-to in your repertoire of drinks to make at home in hot weather. 

Calories Per Serving: 160

Total Preparation Time: 5 min

Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Caramel Macchiato Sweet?

Yes, a caramel macchiato includes vanilla and caramel syrup to cut through the bitterness of the espresso and create a subtle, sweet flavor.

However, a caramel macchiato isn’t as sweet as some people expect it to be. It’s not supposed to be a dessert, or overwhelmingly sweet. Instead, it should have a light sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the coffee.

Does A Caramel Macchiato Have A Strong Coffee Taste?

Yes, compared to some other espresso drinks, caramel macchiatos have a strong coffee taste.

This is because there is a higher proportion of espresso to milk in the average macchiato than there is in, say, a cappuccino. A caramel macchiato is supposed to taste more like espresso than caramel.

Is A Caramel Macchiato Bitter?

If it is prepared correctly, a caramel macchiato should be slightly sweet and never bitter.

However, the espresso that goes into a caramel macchiato has a bitter taste that is offset by the sweetness of the vanilla and caramel syrups.

This makes it less sweet than some other popular espresso drinks, and less sweet than some people expect it to be – especially when it has ‘caramel’ in the name.

If you are expecting a sugary-sweet dessert coffee-style drink, you might be surprised that there is a hint of bitterness in a caramel macchiato, especially in contrast with your expectations.

A caramel macchiato should be slightly sweet and not bitter, but with a balanced coffee flavor that isn’t sugary.

Is Caramel Macchiato Stronger Than Latte?

When it comes to coffee flavor, a caramel macchiato has a stronger flavor than a latte. There is a higher proportion of espresso to milk in a caramel macchiato, which means more of the espresso flavor comes through.

However, when it comes to caffeine, these two espresso drinks are identical. They each include a single shot of espresso, which contains the same amount of caffeine.

The fact that a latte tastes less like coffee than a caramel macchiato does not mean it contains less caffeine; only that the espresso is counterbalanced by milk and other flavors. Both drinks will give you the same steady buzz. 

What’s The Point Of A Macchiato?

A macchiato is intended as a way to enjoy the flavors of espresso – not disguise them.

A macchiato features just a bit of milk in the espresso to temper the acidity and brings out the flavors, without dampening them as a latte does. This allows you to enjoy espresso purely without a lot of interference from other flavors and ingredients. 

A macchiato means “mark”, which refers to the leftover bit at the top when one drink is poured into another. Macchiatos are not mixed and are intended to provide a layered experience.

The point of a macchiato is not to mix it, but to drink it from the top by enjoying the foam first and then the espresso.

To mix these is to flatten the textures and experience. A macchiato allows you to taste each flavor – of milk and espresso – in the purest way, while also mixing them naturally in the cup. 

How Do You Make A Caramel Macchiato Taste Less Like Coffee?

If you are not a fan of the strong espresso taste in a caramel macchiato, there are many ways to reduce that flavor and increase the flavors that you are looking for – most likely, the milky sweetness and caramel flavors.

However, it is worth asking: why?

A caramel macchiato is intended to highlight the flavor of espresso. It is supposed to taste like coffee, which is why it is brewed and prepared the way it is.

A caramel macchiato does feature the sweetness of vanilla and caramel, and the creamy smooth texture of milk, but these are additional notes that are intended to enhance the flavor of the espresso rather than overpower it.

If you don’t like the coffee flavor in a caramel macchiato, you can add more milk, vanilla, and caramel syrup.

However, you might consider making a different drink entirely that suits you better – like a caramel latte, which is intended to highlight the flavors of milk and caramel, using the espresso to add additional richness and depth, rather than as the main attraction.

You can prepare a caramel macchiato to reduce the flavor of coffee, but if you’re not into espresso in the first place, there are better drinks that will give you the flavors you are looking for. 

3 Tasty Caramel Macchiato Recipes

Try these best recipes to know what is the exact flavor of a caramel macchiato.


  • Pick a recipe from the list above
  • Click the recipe name and visit the website
  • Collect the ingredients and cook the food
  • Enjoy – don’t forget to leave a review

Recipe Video

Jess Smith